Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - A look at some Caldecott Honor Books

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction. My plan is to read at least 100 nonfiction picture books this year.

I'm working on reading the Caldecott winners and honor books. Today I read two nonfiction titles.

written by Joyce Sidman & illustrated by Beckie Prange

Goodreads Summary: From spring’s first thaw to autumn’s chill, the world of the pond is a dramatic place. Though seemingly quiet, ponds are teeming with life and full of surprises. Their denizens—from peepers to painted turtles, duckweed to diving beetles—lead secret and fascinating lives. A unique blend of whimsy, science, poetry, and hand-colored woodcuts, this Caldecott Honor-winning collection invites us to take a closer look at our hidden ponds and wetlands. Here is a celebration of their beauty and their mystery.

My thoughts:  The illustrations here are gorgeous. I loved how Prange brought us up close and personal with even some of the tiniest of the critters. I went into it just thinking this was a poetry book. I didn't realize that there was a nonfiction blurb to go with each of the poems. This in addition to the fact that many of the poems were fact filled also. The poetry was nice, but the addition of the information about the scenes really made this book more appealing to me. People looking for poetry could just read that part, but I liked them together.

by David McLimans

Goodreads Summary: Feast your eyes on these amazing creatures before they disappear. This stampede of wild animals, from Chinese Alligator to Grevy's Zebra, are so rare, they're all endangered. David McLiman's bold and playful illustrations transform each letter into a work of art, graphically rendered with animal characteristics. Scales, horns, even insect wings transform the alphabet into animated life.

Once you take this eye-opening safari, you'll never look at letters or animals with the same way again. A striking work of art and a zoological adventure, Gone Wild is sure to be loved by children and adults alike.

My Thoughts: The illustrations are once again fabulous. I loved the creativity of the author/illustrator. He sought out not just endangered animals that would fit the alphabet, but also those with shapes that fit the letters in the animal's name. That had to be quite a bit of research. 

The text on the pages of the main body were not terribly interesting, but I did enjoy the collection of information at the end. Each animal has a blurb. The main part of the text was basically a chart that listed a few of the same facts for each animal. The end had more variety to it. 

I'm so glad that the Caldecott committee takes a look at nonfiction books too. I am curious to know what the numbers are for nonfiction books winning the award and getting honors. I feel like I saw that written up in a blog post somewhere, but I don't remember the stats. Have a great week!


  1. That is an interesting thought - the difference in fiction and nf! I'm glad that nf has its own award now and the wonderful nfpb that are published now!

  2. More than one of Joyce Sidman's poetry books include poems and a n-f blurb. I've enjoyed so many of them. Thanks for Gone Wild, though, new to me. It's great you're reading all the Caldecott winners and honors. You'll help us all catch up, Crystal.

  3. Both of these are new to me--thank you for sharing! I love that you are doing the Caldecott Challenge :)

  4. I love both of these books Crystal. I have the Gone Wild book in my personal alphabet book collection.

  5. When you share these with your students, do you read both the poem and the nonfiction bit? Both the main text and the back matter? I'm curious about how they work as read-alouds. Or maybe they really work better to hand to a child?

    1. I haven't read these two with students. I probably wouldn't read Gone Wild aloud except to share snippets and have students read individually. I would probably read a few pages of the Water Boatman book each day if I was a classroom teacher much like reading aloud a chapter book rather than all in one sitting.

  6. I'm glad the illustrations here stood out. I love when a book that seems simple goes out of its way to include facts!